Warren County – Route 624 (Morgan Ford Road) bridge replacement
Project at a Glance
Contract awarded January 29, 2016
Est Completion Date
Contract Value $4,886,508.07
Lengths and Limits
0.38 mile long; From: 0.02-mile south of Route 643 To: 0.36-mile north of Route 643
Orders Construction Company Inc., St. Albans, W.Va.
The low-water bridge over the Shenandoah River on Route 624 (Morgan Ford Road) is proposed to be replaced with a new two-lane bridge in the vicinity of Route 643 (Howellsville Road). The project is 0.38 mile long and extends from 0.02-mile south of Route 643 to 0.36-mile north of Route 643.
At the existing bridge site there are easements with the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF) on the north side and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) property on the south side. The Morgan Ford Boat Landing is on the southeastern side of the existing bridge.
The existing multi-span bridge is a single lane structure built in 1925, which is 321-feet long with a single 11-foot wide lane.
The new bridge will be a two-lane structure located at the existing location following the existing alignment. Approximately 480-feet long, the new bridge will have a 22-foot wide travel way. The approaches on either side of the bridge will have a paved width varying between 22 and 24 feet. Ditches will be provided where needed.
While not wide enough for a sidewalk or formal bike lanes, there are no restrictions placed on pedestrians or bicyclists from utilizing the proposed bridge. VDOT’s design is an improvement over existing conditions.
In 2012 the traffic count on this portion of Route 624 was 1876 vehicles per day. This number is projected to increase to 3005 in the year 2035.
The total estimated cost for this project is $9,713,152, including $1,176,677 for preliminary engineering, $675,189 for right of way and $7,861,286 for construction.
Project Location (latitude, longitude): 38.958056, -78.122222
Media and Public Events
Design Public Hearing
Wednesday, February 4, 2015, 4-7 p.m.
North Warren Fire Department
89 Rockland Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
Inclement weather date: Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 4-7 p.m. Same location.
Citizen Information Meeting
Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 4 – 7 p.m.
Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department
C. W. Turner Banquet Hall
221 Commerce Avenue
Front Royal, VA 22630
Citizen Information Meeting:
Wednesday, February 3, 2010, 4 – 7 p.m.
North Warren Fire Department
89 Rockland Road
Front Royal, VA 22630
This project replaces an existing low-water and substandard narrow bridge over the Shenandoah River. The new bridge will be several feet higher than the existing structure and will provide a safer passage for traffic. Water overtopping situations on the new bridge will be less than overtopping occurrences on the existing bridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the project disturb Smoketown, an early settlement in the area? No. While the remains of Smoketown may be nearby, the archaeological investigation of the project area, including the south bank of the river, found no evidence of that settlement within the small area to be disturbed by construction.
Will the project hinder use of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) boat launch facility? For safety reasons, the river access is temporarily closed during this project. Canoes and kayaks will not be able to pass through the construction zone. DGIF provides public access to the Shenandoah River near Route 340 at Riverton, and near Route 50 at Berry's Ferry. More information on river access is available here. For the long term, VDOT is collaborating closely with DGIF to enhance access to the boat launch facility and to provide ample, safe access under the bridge for users of the river and facility who presently must portage canoes and boats across Route 624.
Will the project interfere with swimming, picnicking, and other recreational activities at the DGIF boat launch? The DGIF boat launch is to be used exclusively for boating and fishing since its operation is funded by licenses for those activities. All other uses of that area do not conform to that facility’s official purpose. In addition, fishing from bridges is illegal in Virginia except in circumstances defined by state law. No such circumstances exist here.
How wide is the proposed bridge? A design exception has been obtained so that VDOT can construct the bridge significantly narrower than VDOT’s minimum design standards for this roadway. It will have a roadway width of 22 feet, 18 feet narrower than a 2-lane bridge built to current design standards.
Will VDOT’s design prevent pedestrians and bicycles from crossing the river? No, while not wide enough for a sidewalk or formal bike lanes, there are no restrictions placed on pedestrians or bicyclists from utilizing the proposed bridge. VDOT’s design is an improvement over existing conditions.
Why is VDOT not providing a sidewalk for pedestrians on the bridge? The width of the bridge is constrained by conservation easements on the north bank of the river that VDOT cannot encroach upon. The proposed roadway width does not provide dedicated pedestrian facilities, however, more space is proposed than the current bridge for non-vehicular use. No restrictions are placed on pedestrians or bicyclists from utilizing the proposed bridge.
How did VDOT determine the height of the proposed bridge? The height of the bridge was influenced by several design requirements. These included providing ample room for boaters and canoeists to safely pass under the structure as coordinated with DGIF, to minimize overtopping events and closure time, and to avoid increasing the 100-year flood elevation and associated impacts to upstream properties. The proposed height of the bridge satisfies all of these requirements. Is VDOT’s bridge a “cookie cutter” design? No. Not only is it one of the narrowest bridges designed in decades, it incorporates a railing design developed for scenic areas that is unique in the Commonwealth.
Did VDOT study the environmental impacts of its project? Yes. VDOT compiled environmental documentation for the Federal Highway Administration covering a wide range of environmental issues including threatened and endangered species, historic properties, air quality, and wetland and stream impacts.
Did VDOT give fair consideration to the Piedmont Environmental Council’s (PEC) alternative design concept? Yes. VDOT carefully considered all of the PEC’s suggestions and the department’s detailed response is available here. Some of the PEC’s suggestions have been incorporated to make the project more harmonious with the Rockland Rural Historic District and the scenic character of the river crossing.
Why has it taken so long to get the bridge going? The last Citizen Information Meeting was November 2012. VDOT has been working with stakeholders on this project in an attempt to find common ground on a wide range of issues. During that process, the PEC put forth an alternative design concept, and we have spent time incorporating various elements of that into the current VDOT bridge design. Additionally, a Memorandum of Agreement was needed to document commitments to mitigate impacts to the Rockland Rural Historic District. Those commitments include some aspects of roadway design and traffic calming, heritage-tourism signage, documentation of the existing bridge and other historic resources.
What are the next steps? The public hearing comment period ended on February 14th, and those comments will be reviewed. Citizen input and the bridge design plans will be presented to the VDOT Chief Engineer for final design approval. If plans are approved, then right of way work will begin later in 2015, with construction in 2016.
Public Hearing – February 4, 2015
Right of Way activities – 2015
Construction – Spring 2016
The road will be closed during construction, and a detour route will be posted.
Part of Route 624 (Morgan Ford Road) is closed for replacement of the low-water bridge over the Shenandoah River. This closure is from the intersection of Route 643 (Howellsville Road) and Route 661 (Fairground Road), but homeowners on either side of the bridge will have access to their properties.
Contractors have begun tree cutting and trimming in the area of the project, and drivers can expect flagger-controlled traffic from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily until the road closure.
Beginning April 2016, signs will direct motorists on one of the following detours:
- Drivers south of the bridge will turn right on Route 643 (Howellsville Road), which changes to Route 603 and then to Route 638 in Clarke County. Drivers will then turn left on Route 17/50 (John Mosby Highway) and left on Route 624 (Red Gate Road/Milldale Road) to reach the end of the detour.
- Drivers north of the bridge will follow Route 624 (Milldale Road/Red Gate Road) north and turn right on Route 17/50 (John Mosby Highway) in Clarke County. Drivers will then turn right on Route 638 (Howellsville Road), which changes to Route 603 and then Route 643, to reach the end of the detour.
For safety reasons, the VDGIF boat launch is temporarily closed during construction. Signs along the Shenandoah River alert boaters to restricted access in the area of this work zone.
Traffic alerts can also be found on the VDOT website under Travel Center, Travel advisories and lane closures. Click on the area of the state you are interested in, and view current travel advisories and lane closures. Click here to go to the Staunton District Travel Center page: Staunton District
Real-time traffic information is available on the VDOT 511Virginia.org website and also by calling 511 on your landline or wireless phone. Click here to go to 511: Virginia 511 Web
State Project: 0624-093-192, P101, R201, M501, B625
Federal Project: STP-093-8(013)